Region III U18s: Florida Rush out to repeat

In the changing landscape of Florida club soccer, one thing remains constant: this Florida Rush Nike squad is a national competitor. The team that won last year’s Region III Championship also won this year’s Region III East Premier League, and heads into Greensville, S.C., looking to defend its regional crown.

“The thing that really sets us apart is our cohesiveness and our chemistry as a team,” says coach Nate Omodt. “We’ve got a bunch of kids who are really dedicated to each other and really committed to winning.”

This squad posted a 8-1 record in route to their Premier League title this year and won last year’s regional crown allowing just three goals in six games. Offensively, Jean Rivaroli led all scorers in last year’s tournament with seven goals, including one each in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

“Jean is just a pure goal scorer up top and he really has a nose for the goal,” says Omodt. He also says that Rivaroli’s success is due in large part to his chemistry with Felipe Oliveira. Midfielders Andrew Spragg and Bryce Ciambella balance the attack and supply additional offense for Rush. The stellar defense is Bucknell-signee Connor Willings and North Florida-bound Andrew Bruce.

As defending champions, this team knows they’ve got a target on their back. Omodt says they hope to use last year’s success as a lesson, but they know nothing is guaranteed at this level.

“Being in those tight situations and knowing the level of competition, it does bring a little bit more of maturity and confidence,” says Omodt. “But you have to be humble. Last year is in the past, it’s done and over with. This is a new year and you can never rest on your past accomplishments.”

Pre-Event Favorites

Florida Rush Nike (Group A) – The defending champs look to repeat

CESA 93 Premier (Group C) – The South Carolina State Cup champs have a tough group to get out of, but if they make it to the knockout rounds, could be a top contender.

Norcross Fury Premier (Group A) – The Disney Showcase Champion will have an early test when they face Florida Rush Nike.

Charlotte United Gold (Group D) – Lots of experience with high-level tournaments will only help this squad.

Dallas Texans Red (Group C) – This Texas-North squad has played a full slate of games against top-notch opponents in National League, Premier League and State Cup play.

Under-18 Players to Watch

Jean Rivaroli, F, Florida Rush Nike – Led all scorers in last year’s Region III tournament

Nico Melo, MF, Florida Rush Nike – Not on the roster, but the North Carolina commit may be present

Bryce Ciambella, MF, Florida Rush Nike – Region III ODP, Creighton commit

Cristian Mata, F, TSC Hurricane – Tulsa commit

Cole Seiler, F, CESA 93 – Georgetown commit

Matthew Freeman, D, CESA 93 – Clemson commit